A White House spokesman said late Friday that President Donald Trump’s administration played no role in a controversial memo alleging abuse of power within the FBI — and it’s not considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” to dispute speculation that the White House may have coordinated with Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in creating a four-page summary memo detailing how the FBI came to spy on Trump associates during the 2016 campaign.
“We didn’t come up with it. We didn’t draft it. We didn’t release it. So that’s three no’s, I can tell you unequivocally,” he said. “That’s absolutely ridiculous, and it just seems that it’s a diversion of some kind, because this is very clear that the memo raises serious concerns about the integrity of the decisions made at the highest levels of both the Department of Justice and the FBI.”
Gidley also shot down speculation that Trump would use revelations in the memo to fire Rosenstein, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
“There’s been no conversation or consideration for firing Rod Rosenstein,” he said.
Democrats and progressive commentators kicked into overdrive after the release of the memo Friday in an attempt to discredit it. One of the chief criticisms is that the document “cherry-picked” information unfavorable to the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Ingraham it is fair to point out that not every relevant fact was included in the memo. Even so, he said the document is accurate.
“As someone who has viewed the underlying documents, the story ends the same way.”
“As someone who has viewed the underlying documents, the story ends the same way,” he said.
Ratcliffe ridiculed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking minority member of the intelligence panel.
“I have to laugh, you know — the comments coming from Adam Schiff about protecting classified information,” he said. “The irony of that is not lost on a lot of people in Washington who are convinced that he’s a graduate of the Edward Snowden school of keeping secrets.”
Victoria Toensing, a prominent Washington lawyer, told Ingraham the judge who approved surveillance warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) should ensure that there are consequences.
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“The FISA court had better get busy. Because they’re either incredibly, grossly negligent, or they were lied to. And don’t you think they should care? And shouldn’t they have some kind of hearing or process?”
Asked what bothered her most about the memo, Toensing pointed to a section indicating that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe acknowledged in closed-door congressional testimony last year that the dossier on Trump prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele was key to getting the surveillance warrants.
That dossier, prepared at the behest of an opposition research firm hired by 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, contains many salacious accusations against Trump that U.S. investigators never verified.
“The first thing is that McCabe said that they would not have sought, they would not have even gone to the FISA court, unless they had that dossier,” Toensing said. “That just is really scary. And then the bootstrapping, of course. The dossier was used to … plant a story with [Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent] Michael Isikoff, the journalistic whore. He just takes whatever the Left gives him.”
Ratcliffe defended Nunes against another criticism — that he did not read the FISA applications. Ratcliffe said Nunes followed the procedures set out by the Department of Justice to allow one member of Congress and an investigator to read the applications in a secure room.
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Ratcliffe said Nunes’ choice, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), was an excellent one.
“Why wouldn’t you send over Trey Gowdy?” he asked. “Why wouldn’t you send over the best lawyer in Congress, a lawyer who has viewed hundreds, if not thousands, [of] agent declarations, affidavits, and submissions to federal courts? Why wouldn’t you send a guy who knows exactly what he’s looking for, what would pass the smell test and what wouldn’t?”